President Obama made an eyebrow-raising claim in his January State of
the Union address: he wants to double U.S. exports in five years. That
is, to say the least, ambitious, and it was met with wide skepticism
. On Thursday, the White House unveiled
their plan for doubling exports. Many commentators are far from
convinced, but even the skeptics seemed impressed by the plan's bold
but measured provisions. Here's the proposal and what people are saying
- Obama's Plan The Washington Post's Howard Schneider reports
that it "includes $2 billion in new export financing through the
Export-Import Bank, which helps U.S. companies finance overseas sales;
establishment of a Cabinet group to promote U.S. goods and services
abroad; and an expanded role for the Nixon-era President's Export
Council, to be chaired by W. James McNerney, Boeing's president and
chief executive. Restrictions on the overseas sale of some high-end
technology goods may also be eased." He says it relies on the dollar
not becoming too strong and on developing free trade agreements.
- Easier Than It Sounds Foreign Policy's Annie Lowrey notes
that U.S. exports have long risen at a high rate, and the recession
lowers the goal posts. "The average five-year increase is around 140
percent. Still, Obama's plan to double the number by 2015 does not seem
so far-fetched. For one, trade has fallen due to the recession, meaning
the United States needs to double a lower-than average number."
- It's All About Free Trade ABC News' Karen Travers writes,
"Analysts say that achieving this goal without enacting any of the
outstanding free trade agreements will be difficult and don't see any
substantial commitment from the White House to push those deals to
completion." Stalled trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and
Panama could make or break Obama's exports goals.
- It's All About National Security The Economist says
the "most significant" provision "responds to complaints that national
security controls interfere with exports. The current system will be
replaced with a one-time notification. The review time would drop to 30
minutes from the current one-to-two months for 85% of the 3,300
affected products. Standards governing how exporters allow foreigners
to handle products with potential military applications will be
- Cotton, Brazil and Free Trade Conservative think tank Heritage Foundation insists
that the U.S. cotton subsidies harm our trade relationship with Brazil,
which could be the "poster child" for doubling exports. "If we're
seeing the beginnings of a trade war between the United States and
Brazil, the United States fired the first shot." Because the U.S. does
not end its cotton subsidies and open trade with Brazil, "international hopes for a renewal of the United States' traditional commitment to trade liberalization were dashed yet again."
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